Cave of the Patriarchs
Also called the Cave of Machpelah or Ibrahimi Mosque.
The Cave of the Patriarchs, also called the Cave of Machpelah (Hebrew: מערת המכפלה, trans. "cave of the double tombs") and known by Muslims as the Sanctuary of Abraham or the Ibrahimi Mosque (Arabic: الحرم الإبراهيمي), is a series of subterranean chambers located in the heart of the old city of Hebron (Al-Khalil) in the Hebron Hills.[Gen. 23:17-19][Gen. 50:13] According to tradition that has been associated with the Holy Books Torah, Bible and Quran, the cave and adjoining field were purchased by Abraham as a burial plot.
The site of the Cave of the Patriarchs is located beneath a Saladin-era mosque, which had been converted from a large rectangular Herodian-era Judean structure.
Dating back over 2,000 years, the monumental Herodian compound is believed to be the oldest continuously used intact prayer structure in the world, and is the oldest major building in the world that still fulfills its original function. The Hebrew name of the complex reflects the very old tradition of the double tombs of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah, considered the Patriarchs and Matriarchs of the Jewish people, who are all believed to be buried there. The only Jewish matriarch missing is Rachel, who is believed to be buried at Rachel's Tomb near Bethlehem. The Arabic name of the complex reflects the prominence given to Abraham, revered by Muslims as a Quranic prophet and patriarch through Ishmael. Outside biblical and Quranic sources there are a number of legends and traditions associated with the cave. In Acts 7:16 of the Christian Bible the cave of the Patriarchs is located in Shechem (Latin: Neapolis; Arabic: Nablus).[Acts 7:16]
After the Six-Day War in 1967, in which Israel gained control of Hebron, the first Jew who entered the Cave of Machpelah for about 700 years, was the Chief Rabbi of the Israel Defense Forces, Major general Rabbi Shlomo Goren. "About 700 years ago, the Muslim Mamelukes conquered Hebron, declared the structure a mosque and forbade entry to Jews, who were not allowed past the seventh step on a staircase outside the building."